Long fractures known as tiger stripes decorate the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, seen here in a picture from the Cassini spacecraft. These stripes are the source of the moon’s famous geysers, which most likely spray water and other intriguing ingredients from a subsurface ocean.
Icy Moon May Have the Right Stuff to Fuel Life
A recent flyby suggests that if there’s life on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, there’s probably plenty of food for it to consume.
Something hot seems to be churning deep inside an icy moon, and NASA scientists think that it might be enough energy to fuel any hypothetical extraterrestrial life.
The Cassini spacecraft had previously flown through the watery plumes coming out of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, “tasting” their contents and discovering that they are laced with salts, simple organic molecules, and ammonia—key building blocks for life.
At a Thursday press conference, scientists led by Southwest Research Institute scientist Hunter Waite announced that during an October 2015 flyby, the spacecraft’s instruments also detected molecular hydrogen within the moon’s plumes.
The gas, most likely produced as rocks and scalding water intermingled on the world’s seafloor, provides additional evidence that Enceladus currently has hydrothermal vents—and that they’re vigorous